(UPDATE: Monday, May 9, 3:53 p.m.)
The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina hours after Gov. Pat McCrory filed a lawsuit against the DOJ. The DOJ’s lawsuit states that North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” House Bill 2, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Original story continues below:
North Carolina filed a lawsuit on Monday against the U.S. Department of Justice in defense of its anti-transgender bathroom law.
House Bill 2 (HB2) is a statewide law that prevents transgender people from using the public bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The DOJ sent a letter (posted by WRAL) to Governor Pat McCrory saying that the state is “engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender state employees” that violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. McCrory was given until Monday to respond to the DOJ with “whether you will remedy these violations.”
The May 9 lawsuit states that the DOJ’s stance is a “radical reinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act” and its allegations against the state represent “a baseless and blatant overreach.”
McCrory responded on “Fox News Sunday” and reiterated his support for the bill.
“This is a basic change of norms that we’ve used for decades throughout the United States of America and the Obama administration is now trying to change that norm again not just in North Carolina, but they’re ordering this to every company in the United States of America starting tomorrow I assume, or Tuesday,” the governor said.
“They’re now telling every university that accepts federal funding that boys who may think they’re a girl can go into a girl’s locker room or restroom or shower facility, and that begins, I assume, tomorrow,” he said.
McCrory also found issue with what he considered a very hasty deadline to respond to the letter, which was dated May 4. “They gave the ninth largest state in the United States three working days to respond to a pretty complex letter and to a pretty big threat,” he said. “Well, we don’t think three working days is enough to respond to such a threat.”
McCrory had asked Friday for an extension to make a decision but was denied.
“It’s the federal government being a bully,” he said.
Fox’s Chris Wallace asked McCrory, “Would it be overreach for the Justice Department to send you a letter like this to say you cannot have bathrooms in the state capitol, one for white and one for Black”
The difference, McCrory responded, is, “We can definitely define the race of people. It’s very hard to define transgender or gender identity.”
“How many cases have you had in North Carolina in the last year where people have been convicted of using transgender protections to commit crimes in bathrooms” Wallace questioned, to which McCrory responded this has not yet been a problem.
“If there’s no problem then why pass the law in the first place” Wallace pressed.
“There can be a problem because the liberal Democrats are the ones pushing for bathroom laws and now President Obama and the mayor of Charlotte wants government to have bathroom rules,” McCrory said. “I’m not interested in that. We did not start this on the Right.”
McCrory cited Charlotte, North Carolina, where an ordinance was passed in February that provided legal protection for LGBT people, including letting transgender citizens use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. HB2 came in response to and nullified this ordinance and also prevented individual cities from passing similar ones in the future, leaving this power up to the state.
The lawsuit could potentially cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.
McCrory had previously defended his decision to sign HB2, taking to Twitter the night he signed it.
“Ordinance defied common sense, allowing men to use women’s bathroom/locker room for instance,” he tweeted. “That’s why I signed bipartisan bill to stop it.”